Monday, April 18, 2005

What is seen and what is not seen

Jeremy muses on the romanticization of depression, inspired by this NY Times Magazine article. I read the piece earlier to get the taste of the Constitution in Exile article out of my mouth, but it's nearly as appalling as its companion, in its own way.

People kept badgering the author with questions about whether Edgar Allen Poe or Vincent Van Gogh would have made great art if they weren't depressed. My personal opinion is that the creative urge is something separate from one's emotional state, and that if they were driven by some internal mechanism to express themselves, they probably would have made great art with different content.

But what about all the depressed people who weren't as resilient as even Van Gogh? One of the terrible things about depression is its ability to totally sap the will, to make it impossible to even get out of bed, to undermine motivation and replace it with self-loathing. How many potential artists' work have we never seen, because their lives were debilitated by depression? How many promising young artists' careers were cut short by suicide, perhaps so short that we don't remember them? Exploring the depths of human emotion is valuable, but depression hinders, not helps. That anyone could think that not eliminating a disease would be a good thing is just bizarre.

But then again, I shouldn't be surprised. Some people think cervical cancer should be kept around so we can all be frightened into not having sex. (Via Pandagon)
blog comments powered by Disqus